Antimicrobial bacteriophage-derived proteins and therapeutic applications

Bacteriophage. 2015 Jun 23;5(3):e1062590. doi: 10.1080/21597081.2015.1062590. eCollection Jul-Sep 2015.


Antibiotics have the remarkable power to control bacterial infections. Unfortunately, widespread use, whether regarded as prudent or not, has favored the emergence and persistence of antibiotic resistant strains of human pathogenic bacteria, resulting in a global health threat. Bacteriophages (phages) are parasites that invade the cells of virtually all known bacteria. Phages reproduce by utilizing the host cell's machinery to replicate viral proteins and genomic material, generally damaging and killing the cell in the process. Thus, phage can be exploited therapeutically as bacteriolytic agents against bacteria. Furthermore, understanding of the molecular processes involved in the viral life cycle, particularly the entry and cell lysis steps, has led to the development of viral proteins as antibacterial agents. Here we review the current preclinical state of using phage-derived endolysins, virion-associated peptidoglycan hydrolases, polysaccharide depolymerases, and holins for the treatment of bacterial infection. The scope of this review is a focus on the viral proteins that have been assessed for protective effects against human pathogenic bacteria in animal models of infection and disease.

Keywords: antibiotic resistance; antimicrobial; bacteriophage; endolysin; holin; peptidoglycan hydrolase; polysaccharide depolymerase.

Publication types

  • Review